Bipolar disorder sometimes referred to as manic depression, is a mental health condition that attributes severe high and low mood changes, accompanied by changes in energy, behavior, thinking, and sleep.
People with bipolar disorder can experience periods when they feel overly happy and others of hopeless, sad, sluggish feelings. Although, the majority of people experience more depressive symptoms than manic ones.
Bipolar disorder symptoms vary widely from patient to patient, and they can even change over time becoming more or less severe. They will also change depending on the type of feelings experienced whether they are low or high periods.
Testing for Bipolar Disorder
Testing for bipolar disorder goes beyond multiple tests, scans, or blood works sent to the lab. Because of bipolar disorder's highly distinct symptoms, there is not a one-size-fits-all test to confirm this condition. More often than less, a combination of methods and tests are necessary to make an accurate diagnosis.
Most doctors use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) to rule a complete diagnosis. By using the DSM, doctors can compare symptoms with the technical description of the symptoms associated with bipolar disorder.
Bipolar Disorder Diagnosis
During a bipolar test or diagnosis, doctors take careful note of symptoms, including its length, frequency, and severity. They also take a look at family history and relatives with other mental health conditions or other conditions that may increase the risk for mental illness.
During the diagnosis, the mental health expert will ask questions about your possible bipolar symptoms, including questions related to memory, your ability to express yourself, and even your ability to maintain healthy relationships.
To rule out a bipolar disorder, a person must experience periods of mania and depression. However, within the mood, at least three symptoms need to be present to diagnose bipolar disorder.
Mania is a distinct period of abnormally and persistently expansive, elevated or irritable mood, according to the definition in the DSM. In bipolar disorder, mania should be accompanied by three of these symptoms:
- High self-esteem
- Increased pursuit of dangerous activities
- Little need for sleep
- Psychomotor agitation
- Increased rate of speech
- Increased interest in goals
- Flight of ideas
- Getting easily distracted
Depression is at least two weeks of loss of interest, pleasure, and an overall depressed mood, as defined by the DSM. To rule a bipolar disorder, depression must be paired with four of these symptoms and be consistent for at least two weeks:
- Changes in appetite
- Suicidal thoughts
- Decreased energy
- Trouble thinking, making decisions or concentrating
- Feelings of worthlessness
Once the symptoms have been assessed by a mental health expert, they can be the ones to rule out a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. Keep in mind, bipolar disorder is often misdiagnosed, which is why if you believe someone is suffering from bipolar disorder, talking to a qualified expert can be valuable for proper diagnosis.